This weekend will mark the 60th annual Marine Bonspiel, which will have a number of teams from around the region coming to town to partake in games and the traditional delicious seafood banquet.
The Curling Club has been holding this annual event since 1952, when the first-ever bonspiel was held on March 21 until the 24. At the first bonspiel there were around 30 teams and only a few of those participants had ever curled before – many of them never even seeing a game played before.
Six years later, in 1957, the first “Marine Bonspiel” was held at the new six-sheet rink, which has been used ever since.
During this year, Prince Rupert local Bob Rudderham was President of the Club. Today, Bob is the last Charter member of the club who is still curling and has been with the group since day one, playing a number of different roles including being a historian for the club, being secretary, treasurer and sitting on the executive board for decades.
Bob Rudderham continues to be the historian every Wednesday night as he recalls many fond memories of the club and past games and bonspiels played, telling these stories to the current members of the club. Rudderham is 89-years old, going on 90, has curled in nearly every bonspiel over the past 60 years and will be participating again this year. “That’s one of the great thing about curling, and my dad is a testament to that is, curling is a game you can play your whole life. My dad’s 89 going on 90 this year and he’s still curling. It’s a wonderful sport,” explained Bob’s son Mark Rudderham, who is also a curler and part of the Bonspiel Organizing Committee.
At the first advertised Marine Bonspiel in 1957, 76 men’s teams took part in games that took around a week to play out. That was the largest event the club has ever seen.
“The banquet had seafood that year, which got us a lot of entries from up country because they don’t get fresh seafood. That was a big drawing card,” explained Bob.
Since then, the banquet has always included fresh seafood, something that the bonspiel is well known for around the region.
“It was one of the premier nights in Prince Rupert during that time. The Marine Bonspiel was one of the Gala events of the year,” said Mark.
For the 60th, Corey Kitchen and the rest of the Bonspiel Committee have organized another entertaining weekend for curlers.
On Friday, after the games, there will be a shrimp and crab feed for participants. Saturday will be the renowned seafood banquet catered by Number One Fast Food at the curling rink, with a live band performing.
Members of the community are welcome to come to the rink to watch games. There is a viewing area at the curling rink, so non-curlers can take in games or enjoy a drink or food from the concession stand. People coming down for viewing purposes will not have to pay to get into the facility.
“We encourage the public to come down. Being our 60th, we’re hoping to have a really good turn out,” explained Mark.